Preserving Greens for Winter

Today is March 1st. The cusp of spring. The garden has been resting under a blanket of snow since October, but soon enough planting will begin. I’ve been doing a lot of daydreaming about the coming garden season, putting in those final seed orders, and taking inventory of the past year’s harvests.

During our first years at the homestead, greens were sorely missed during winter months. We craved the taste of fresh plant life, eagerly awaiting the day when wild spring shoots burst from ground. When fresh food finally arrives, it is hard to eat enough of it!

greens, salad, homestead, edible flowers, wild greens, wildcrafted, alaska

Salad Season! Use it all: Edible flowers, wild and cultivate greens, radishes, and nuts. Photo Credit: Makiko Yoshida

This is the first year that we preserved enough homegrown greens to stretch all the way into the spring months. It may have been 5 months since the garden went to bed, but garden greens are still on the table.

beets, beet greens, golden beets, cabin, homestead, garden, eat local

Thinned beet greens bound for the table or the freezer. Photo Credit: Margaret Stern

Over the past few years, I have been experimenting with the best ways to preserve greens. I don’t like canned greens, and while I love krauts and other fermented greens, they don’t always hit the spot. Blanching and freezing is the best method I have found to add year-round, non fermented greenery to the homestead diet.

Blanching and freezing greens is not a new concept or terribly hard. It is time consuming, but worth the effort. The finished product makes a difference when trying to eat healthfully from the garden year round. It also makes the most of your hard work from the summer. I regularly process turnip, beet, kale and chard greens. Throughout the growing season, keep the nicest greens from thinning or harvest. The ones that aren’t eaten right away can be processed for winter.

eat local, eat fresh, seasonal eating, homestead

Blanched and Frozen greens for the freezer. Single servings. Photo Credit: Makiko Yoshida

Blanching and Freezing Greens


Fresh-Hardy Greens, Cutting Board, Knife, Stock Pot of Water, Pot of Cold Water, Strainer, Containers (Ziplock bags, jars, or VacuumSealer Bags)

  1. Thoroughly wash your greens while bringing a pot of water to a rolling boil.
  2. Rough chop greens. Remove stems if desired.
  3. Dump greens into boiling water.
  4. Reheat until the water returns to a boil– If this takes more than 10 minutes, you are using too many greens.
  5. Once water returns to a rolling boil, keep greens in the water for 2-3 minutes.
  6. After 2-3 minutes, strain hot water from greens. Dump strained greens into cold water. Drain thoroughly.
  7. Now get all of the remaining liquid out of your greens by squeezing.
  8. Take the ball of greens formed by squeezing and compacting, and place in your container.
  9. Repeat, label container, and freeze.

In years past, I did not make the greens into single serving. That was a mistake. I ended up with huge gallon Ziplock bags that required me hacking chunks off of the solid green clumps with an axe. Squeezing and freezing the greens into single, fist sized portions works incredibly well. You don’t have to defrost an entire bag or break out the axe. About 16 fist sized serving fit into a gallon ziplock bag. I also experimented with making flat “cookie” shaped servings to fit into canning jars as a way to cut down on plastic use.

You may wonder why you can’t just throw fresh greens into the freezer and call it a day. If left uncooked, enzymatic action continues to act upon the vegetables resulting in a loss of taste, texture, and color. When blanching, the cooking is done quickly enough that the veggies don’t get mushy. They remain crisp and flavorful until you are ready to eat them.

Ways to enjoy blanched greens? Toss them in pasta, quiche, sauté before frying eggs, put in soup, stews, and anywhere you would want cooked greenery!


Beasley Family Heart Recipe

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Spruce Root Hearts Photo Credit and Creator: Caity Potter

The first fall Morgan and I were dating, he went on a caribou hunt with friend Evan of Talkeetna 4×4 Adventures check them out. He is an awesome guide and all around great guy. That epic hunt is a story worth telling over and over again…. But that is not my story to tell.

When Morgan called to say he had had a successful hunt, I was excited to experiment with cooking caribou. Never before had I tasted this kind of wild game and wanted to try it all. For a first introduction, he said he was going to make a Beasley specialty.

Read more

Apricity: The feeling of the warmth of the sun in winter

Horses soaking in the late fall sun.

It was April. Break-up season. The snow so rotten you couldn’t take a step without falling in up to your waist. We were home-bound, travel too difficult to make any progress on our projects. The lumber was milled and ready for construction and the homesite selected. The gear was moved off the lake and summer loomed brightly around the corner. Now, after months of go-go-go, we gratefully accepted a time of rest. Now, we waited for the flip of the seasonal switch.

Read more

Seasons at the homestead contrast sharply from one another. This is not due solely to the weather swings of -55 to 90 degrees from winter to summer, but because of the nature of work and activity that each season brings. Most different are the times spent alone in the winter contrasted with the flurry of guests, volunteers, and friends that summer brings. In the summer, it is not unusual to have up to 5 people at a time visiting the homestead. Winter, it is common to spend a few weeks apart running errands, visiting family, and visiting friends in town.

Read more

After years of planning, a water pump was installed in our new addition during November. This marks a huge improvement in our year-round Water System.

In Summer, water requires much less forethought and labor to access. We have a small, energy efficient, pump that draws water from our creek for drinking, wash water and into the hoses and sprinklers that irrigate our 6,000 square foot garden.  A camp hot water heater provides incredible outdoor showers, or choose to embrace the wild and bathe in the creek. Summer is a time of ease of access to that stuff of life.

Read more

Well-Fed: Food on the Homestead

Where does it come from? How is it stored?

Nothing like fresh salad! Photo Credit: Makiko Yoshida

To us, self-sufficiency means providing most of our own food. In most cases, food sourced by your own hand is affordable, healthy, and more delicious. Once you have tasted fresh lettuce out of the garden or a perfectly ripe strawberry, any other will pale in comparison. You are serving up great rewards when you eat a meal composed solely of ingredients you harvested from your garden.

Read more

Life Dictated by Flyable Weather

October. A month of weather. Ice fog blanketed the landscape for days. When it lifted, the snow fell. When the snow stopped and the clouds cleared, temperatures dropped, and the wind howled. October consistently dishes out the worst weather we see.

Read more

Water System, Final Harvests, Friends   September 2018 September was a unique month for us at the homestead… and away from the homestead. During the beginning of the month, Morgan laid insulated pipe for our gray water system. We are increasingly closer to running water at the homestead! The pieces are all coming together. During […]

August 2018 Fall has hit. We are entering mid-October, and just now reviewing the final flash of summer. Before the snow flurries, we enter our own mad flurry of preparation for colder months. As with each summer season before, we kept busy with projects. We are consistently more ambitious than time allows. August kicked off […]

Ponies, Fencing… and Running Water??

July 2018

Summer in the North is a great blur. Folks say that the constant light is as beautiful as it is disorienting. Has it been one day punctuated by many naps, or has it been a month? It is hard to tell where the day starts and stops.

July in the mountains. Photo Credit: Elizabeth Selktas

Read more